Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Extreme Weight Loss - Heidi Takes the Lead, Pushing Through PTSD

Normally you see Chris Powell's smiling face and passion for helping people reach their goals every week, but this time is different. It's his wife Heidi who takes the lead in helping Melissa, who reached out to Heidi specifically because she can relate to her as a mom.

Heidi's the one who tells Melissa she is chosen and does most of the work in this year-long journey, but Chris is still there to assist. It's obvious, however, that Melissa chose the right trainer, since Heidi sees more in her than Chris does. Chris does come around, but Heidi is the one who believes in Melissa from the beginning.

Melissa has been through a lot in the past few years.  Her husband Mike came home from serving our country and had a difficult time adjusting after everything he witnessed in Afghanistan.  He had post-traumatic stress disorder, and it took him to such a dark place that he took his own life in an even more horrific fashion than most people who commit suicide do.(I don't even want to write the words to describe what he did...it's too terrifying to even picture.)  This left Melissa to take care of the kids, with one of them also being diagnosed with PTSD.

She had gained over 100 pounds since her husband's death, and when she started this journey with Heidi she weighed 301 pounds.  There were a lot of ups and downs, including Melissa wanting to quit on the first day of boot camp.  But with love and support she persevered.  She even organized a special 10 mile run in honor of her husband, which she finished with flying colors.  It was amazing to see her town (making me proud to be an Ohioan!) lift her up and support her through everything, including the race.

Heidi and Chris planed a vacation halfway through the year in New Zealand for Melissa and her kids, and while they were there Heidi and Melissa jumped from a building - after running the stairs all the way to the top.  I don't think I could have been brave enough to leap off of a building, especially after the run to the top.  But Melissa rocked it!  And so did Heidi...not long after giving birth to her fourth child.  No wonder Melissa looks up to her - she is amazing!

Before the year was up, Melissa had met a man and started dating.  He seems very supportive of her and her family, and just as proud of her as Heidi and Chris are.  Melissa qualified for and had the skin removal surgery, and kept moving toward her goal.

At the final weigh-in, Melissa surpassed her goal of 164, making it to 159 and losing 142 pounds in a year.  Words that Chris said earlier to her (and truer words were never spoken) came back to me - "The more you want something, the more life will test you."

Melissa had been severely tested over and over again, but she wanted to reach her goal so badly that she did what she had to in order to keep going - and she got there, looking gorgeous on the outside but feeling even better on the inside. 

I appreciate how difficult all of this was for her, and she inspires me to get past my fears and struggles to get to my goals.  Thank you Melissa - you, along with Heidi, are now and will always be one of my "She-roes"!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Extreme Weight Loss - Singing A New Song

I haven't been able to watch the first couple of episodes of EWL this season because of work - and then there were those pesky NBA finals.  (At least the Spurs won!) I'm glad that EWL was back already tonight...and it couldn't have been a better episode for me to start with.

I have a lot in common with Jayce.  He's a songwriter in Nashville who always wanted to be the artist performing the songs as well, but his weight held him back.  As for me, being a writer who's written songs since I was 15 and also having the same dream, I couldn't help but root for him.

He also couldn't swim, which is something I still need to learn as well.  My fear of the water isn't as bad as his was, since I love to get in the pool and work out.  But I don't actually swim, and really want to learn.

Jayce started his weight loss journey at 417 pounds.  He also quit smoking at the same time, which is very impressive.  It's hard enough to undo one bad habit - let alone two or more.  He had some setbacks, but conquered the smoking. I felt terrible for him dealing with the custody battle for his son.  His ex-wife has made his life hell, not only while they were married, but also afterward.  Jayce's son told him he deserved to be healthy - showing that in spite of the drama his mother causes he's still learned a lot of good things from his dad.  I pray that the whole situation gets resolved soon, considering that his son would be better off living with him.

Through all of these ups and downs, Jayce persisted and kept losing weight, even if he didn't always reach the goat that Chris set for him.  In the end, he lost 188 pounds to weigh in at 229, qualifying him for the skin removal surgery.  He also performed his music on stage at the final reveal. Plus - Chris had Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte help him overcome his fears and learn to swim.  Not bad for a 365 day journey!

I look forward to seeing - and hearing - what Jayce does in the future.  I just might even have some songs published myself...so here's to writing and singing brand new songs!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Working On My Running - Making a Commitment

I think I've finally found a way to commit to a 5K - with no looking back.

My running really never got off the ground before, so to speak.  I still do a lot of walking and spinning, but even though I've wanted to "graduate" to running, I always let other things get in the way.  My weird schedule and lack of time are two of my biggest excuses, and while they do have some merit I know there's a way to work around them. 

There has to be.  I can't let outside stuff get into my head and stop me from moving forward.

So I made a commitment that will force me to follow through in the only way I knew how - publicly.  I'm a local columnist for my town's Sun News, and a lot of people in my community read my words.  When I discovered that North Ridgeville is hosting a new race on November 1st AND the money from it would go back into my community, I decided to jump in feet first. No, that's not quite right - I prayed about it first - THEN added my feet into the mix.  AND I wrote about it.

With so many people reading about my commitment to run, I know I have support.  Friends, neighbors, and coworkers will know about it, which will help keep me accountable to myself and my goal.  The dream is not just in my head...it's out there for the whole world to read!

With the race being at the beginning of November, I've given myself plenty of time to work up to 3.1 miles. I am starting now - not waiting until October to train, but gradually getting stronger day by day for a few months before debuting my stride in front of a crowd.  This is not something you cram for like a big exam, and trying to do it last minute could only cause injury or stress.  Since I am going to do this, I want to do it the right way.

Please check out my column "Running down a dream: North Ridgeville News and Musings" and follow my progress both in the Sun News and this blog.  I will keep you posted on how things are going....and I appreciate your support whether you live in my town or read my words across the miles!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Toward Summer Workout Playlist

Thank God that it's finally spring, because I know how sick we all are of the wintry weather.  We made it through one of the worst winters in years - not always patiently, but with prayer and perseverance, here we are on the other side of the snow.
There are still some chilly days, but we can finally get some outdoor workouts in.  I mix it up right now, since on some days the weather still doesn't cooperate.  This playlist will work well whether you are stuck on the treadmill or hitting the trails:
Happy - Pharrell Williams
Stronger - Mandisa
Automatic - Miranda Lambert
On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons
Heaven Knows - Donna Summer
Chainsaw - The Band Perry
Don't Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet - Hayden Panettiere (Nashville Soundtrack)
Counting Stars - One Republic
Let It Go - Idina Menzel (Frozen Soundtrack)
I Hold On - Dierks Bentley
One Way Or Another - Blondie
Beat of the Music - Brett Eldredge
I Ain't Leaving Without Your Love - Jonathan Jackson/Sam Palladio/Chaley Rose (Nashville Soundtrack)
Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker
Mixing up the music also keeps me going, since the variety of genres prevents boredom and appeals to the many sides of me that all need to come out to play - or work out, as the case may be.  It's always good to keep it as interesting as possible!
So...please share with me any songs that you love to work out to right now.  We can all keep each other motivated as we move through spring an toward a fitter summer!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Made To Crave Bible Study - Making Wise Choices Over Time

"Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Making healthy choices continuously over time is so important to success.  It can also be difficult.  You have to be careful that you don't allow the occasional human slip-up to send you on a downward spiral, right back to where you started.

I've been on that path before.  But - this time it's going to be different.  I won't say that I will never make the wrong choice again.  Face it...none of us are perfect, and that definitely includes me.  What I have to make sure I do is work through it - choice by choice, prayer by prayer - so that I build up my success one choice and one prayer at a time. 

Perfecting holiness doesn't mean we are perfect. Only God is perfect.  It does mean that we keep working at it, getting as close to perfect as we can and never giving up.  God knows - that I'm trying, that I want to get to that place where I'm always making right choices.  And that counts for a lot with Him. As long as I keep moving toward the goal and pick myself up when I make a mistake and continue on, I'll be on the right track.

And as long as I pray and talk to God continuously, especially when I make a mistake, He will be happy.  That is where I need to find my peace - and I will get there.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Made To Crave Bible Study - God, Fill My Soul

"For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." - Psalm 107:9

God promises to fill our souls, so we will hunger and thirst no more.  This is so important...so why do I forget way too often?

Food and drink cannot truly fill us.  Those are temporary fixes that still leave a void after the eating is over.  That's why we always feel so much worse after a binge.  It's not just the sick feeling in our stomachs or the thoughts of all of the extra calories that we don't need.  It's because food does not actually FILL us.

But sometimes I don't stop to think about that - especially when I'm stressed.  I feel like I need a "reward" after putting up with different issues or situations, without thinking what the real reward is.

The real reward is a closer relationship with God.  Turning to Him to fill me instead of food is much more satisfying. 

What I need to do - and will start doing as of now - is to take a deep breath and really think before committing to a "treat".  Why do I want the treat?  Is the reason something that would be better served by prayer or a heart-to-heart conversation with God?

I'd say the majority of the time the prayer needs to win out; if I do decide to have a rare treat, it will be because I talked it over with God first so He will help me limit it to a small serving instead of binging.  The only way I will win in this lifetime is by talking to God instead of turning to sugar or junk food.  And that would also cause me to be in better shape (body, mind, and soul) the next time I need to make a decision.  Then I can build the healthy cycle of prayer and better decisions into something consistent to make me a stronger, more confident child of God.

I think it's time to put a big sign in my kitchen - GOD FILLS MY SOUL, NOT FOOD.  The more I remind myself of His promise, the better I will be at saying no to unhealthy foods.  In turn, the better I will be at fulfilling His purpose for me!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Made To Crave Bible Study - The Voice of Truth

There is a song by Casting Crowns that always hits close to home for me.  If you haven't heard it yet here are the lyrics: 

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand
But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"
But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

  Published by  Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Can you relate?  I know I can.  I've lost count of how many times in my life I've been afraid to do something, tried to get my courage up, and felt like there was a vice inside of my head saying, "What makes you think you can do this?"  or "You've failed before, you're just going to fail again."
But what is the actual truth?  That negative voice is the devil whispering in my ear.  He wants me to fail again - or worse yet - not even try.  He knows that God has a lot He wants me to accomplish for Him, and he doesn't want me to accomplish any of it.  Even when I do have some success, the enemy tries to tell me that it was a fluke...that I'd better enjoy that moment because I'll never have another one.  Sometimes he even uses people I know to try to bring me down, and it's hard enough to hear those negative things from my own head, let alone outside of it.
The truth is that God made me - so of course I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God wants me to succeed, to listen to His voice telling me to put the fear aside and trust Him.  He won't steer me wrong. 
I know it will take time to get the enemy's voice out of my head, because even when things are going well he's always going to try to get me to stop believing in God and myself.  The key is to stay in continual prayer, so I can clearly hear the Voice of Truth and do what God wants me to do.
I'm ready for the challenge.  How about you?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Made To Crave Bible Study - Making Peace With My Body

This week in the Made To Crave Bible study, we're discussing how we are not defined by the numbers on the scale - how we should make peace with our bodies, no matter what shape they are in at any given moment in time.
Making peace with my body has been an ongoing process...I've gone back and forth between hating the extra pounds and loving myself for who I am no matter what I see on the scale or in the mirror for as long as I can remember. 
Growing up, I started to gain weight in 3rd grade.  Before that I was way too skinny because I was sometimes too nervous to eat more than a piece of toast before school.  So as a child/teen I always heard comments about my body, ranging from looking like I was starving to being "disgusting" because I had gained weight.  I don't think I ever heard that I looked good (other than from my parents) until I was out of high school and lost the weight for good, leveling out in a healthy range for my height.  Even then, jealous people would tell me I was still too skinny or notice every time I put on a couple of pounds and warn me about "getting fat again". 
Being young and impressionable, I listened way too much to those outside voices.  I'd torture myself over everything, which didn't help in my having a healthy relationship with food.  I'd binge, starve myself, pretend not to care...at one point I even used laxatives to keep my weight in check. Thankfully an angel voice inside of me got me to stop this destruction after about five months.  I gained weight, but at least I wasn't taking Ex-Lax or Correctol and harming myself that way.
I've made progress, both in loving my body and losing some of the excess weight.  My thoughts still fluctuate when I hear kids make fun of me and snicker, or get dirty looks from adults who should know better.  But this Bible study is helping me realize that other people don't determine my worth - GOD does.
So my challenge for myself - and for you - is to stop the minute we hear something negative about our bodies, whether from ourselves or from others who have no place to judge.  Replace those words and thoughts with thoughts of God.  We are His children - we are always beautiful to Him!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Biggest Loser Season 15 Finale - And The Winners Are...

After a long season with a winter break, the finale is finally here.  And with it comes a record-breaking, controversial weigh-in!
The opening of the show was fun and clever, with some former contestants showing how their hard work is still paying off.  Olivia and Hannah from Season 11 still look fabulous.  And Pete from Season 2 - well, check out those abs!  Bob mentions how proud he is of everyone, and how it feels like they're all his and Jillian's kids since the beginning of the series. 
As we move into introducing the 12 eliminated players, Dolvett says it was difficult to pick just 15 people for the season, yet empowering to those 15 that were chosen to change their lives.  All 12 of the eliminated players look amazing.  Jennifer announces that her daughter Taylor has lost 30 pounds so far and her husband lost 50.  Tanya mentions that she is no longer working in fast food, instead opening her own place which will focus on serving healthy comfort foods. And Holley tells Bob he is invited to be part of her training squad if she makes it to the Summer Olympics in Rio.  Sounds like everyone is paying it forward and making their mark!
After all 12 of them get on the scale, Tumi walks away with the $100,000 at-home prize by losing 175 pounds and over 54% of her body weight.  She's also looking forward to running her first marathon soon.
Ruben lost 119 pounds and looks good, but sounds even better as he performs his new single "Meant to Be" live.  Before you know it...it's time to catch up with our three finalists.
All I can say is WOW.  Bobby and David look amazing. I hope Rachel puts at least few pounds back on because she looks too thin.  I'm sure she lost extra to try to win - but once she starts training to swim again she'll need to eat more to stay strong and be healthy. Even Jillian and Bob looked shocked at her dramatic weight loss.
Bobby lost 188 pounds and 52.51% of his body weight.  Rachel lost 155 and 59.62%. (She only weighs 105 pounds now!)  David lost 222 and 54.28%. Rachel is the winner of Season 15 and takes home the $250,000 prize.  Her percentage also breaks the record held by Danny Cahill from Season 8 - who was the biggest loser ever at 55.58%.  (I can't even say "congratulations" to Rachel...she was healthy, fit and athletic at one point but now she needs help.  Becoming so frail you can't even walk up the stairs without falling is NOT an accomplishment.)
David, however, sums up the season nicely as he takes his turn on the scale.  After thanking God and his family for everything, he tells his fellow contestants that the confetti will fall on all of them and they ALL win.  And it's the truth...they all get their lives and their health back, which is what really matters. 
I'm looking forward to Season 16 already...and praying that nobody else becomes anorexic just to win a lot of money.  Stay tuned for future announcements on the upcoming season!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Made To Crave Bible Study - Confident Child of God

Confident child of God (Ephesians 3:12)

This is something I've struggled with off and on through my entire life so far.  I'm sure to some extent I always will.  But it's time to make my struggle with confidence a rare and unusual occurrence. 

Why?  Because GOD wants me to be confident - to believe in myself, because He made me to succeed and be the best me I can be.

He doesn't want me to second guess (or third guess) myself every time I go to do something.  He wants me to pray and take all things to Him, of course.  But if He has put something in my heart and given me the ability and talent to do it, then I shouldn't keep being afraid that it won't work out.  I should step out in faith and confidence that He will work it all out for my good and the good of others.

So that's my next step in this Bible study - to give all of the worry and anxiety to God and just go ahead and do the things He leads me to do.  This goes for fitness and health issues...plus everything else I need to accomplish in life.

Doing this will lead me to the next step - victorious child of God.  (Romans 8:37).  Confidence leads to victory, and victories lead to more confidence...and so on.  It's a really good cycle to be on, and it starts NOW.

So here's to being a CONFIDENT and VICTORIOUS child of God!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Made To Crave Bible Study - Permissible But Not Beneficial

"Everything is permissible...but not everything is beneficial."  (1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV)

This is the verse/statement that hit me the hardest so far in the Made To Crave Bible study.  So many times we go on diets that tell us what we're "allowed" to have, and what foods are "forbidden".  I've been on those diets, and all it makes me want to do is have the stuff they tell me I can't have.  It's as if they want to treat us like two-year-olds by telling us that certain things are no-nos.  And we all know how toddlers react when they are told no!

This verse brings everything around to free will.  We can do whatever we want - but there are consequences to our choices and decisions.  Sure, we can choose to eat a box of candy, pint of ice cream, or bag of chips if that's what we want.  But eating those things won't be beneficial to our health. 

Just as someone with any other type of addiction does, we have a choice.  It may not be easy, and we won't be able to do it all on our own.  We need support from others on the road to healthy living. 

Mot of all, we need God.  Struggling with food addiction - or anything else - requires focusing on God rather than the addiction...and when you feel you are about to lose control and give in, well, that's when it's especially important to pray and ask God for the strength you need to get through the craving without giving in - every single time.

I've been known to binge on junk food at times, especially anything filled with sugar.  I've bought a small sheet cake and eaten half of it at one time.  I've scarfed down two pints of ice cream when I'm stressed.  When I was younger, I even had such a bad sugar craving that I finished off a half-used tube of cake icing just to satisfy the urge for sweets.  Obviously, I didn't need permission from anyone to do these things.  I did it because I felt like it.

But of course, none of those items were beneficial to me in any way.  I only craved sugar more.  After the sugar high, the crash made me feel lethargic.  And of course my stomach was not happy trying to digest all of that sugar at one time. 

This is not to say you can never have a small treat.  The operative word here is SMALL.  A scoop of ice cream, a slice of cake, one piece of candy...on occasion these things can be fine.  This can also keep you from binging on unhealthy foods, because you know you can have a little bit once in a while.

The trick is to ask God to help you make the right choices:  when to have that small treat, when to pass it up, and how to keep from overdoing it and binging when you do decide to have a small amount.  This will require daily practice on our part, focusing on God and bringing these struggles to Him in prayer.  It has to be taken on with Him as the guide.

I'm getting back into the habit of taking the stress to God, so He can help me deal with it in better ways than eating whatever I feel like eating at the moment.  I want my choices to be beneficial - just as they should be!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Join Me in the "Made To Crave" Online Bible Study!

It's time to do this - full out.

I read Lysa TerKeurst's book Made To Crave about two years ago.  It made an impact on me then, as it helped me get in the right frame of mind to lose weight by giving the issue over to God.  I've lost over 30 pounds since then, but something is still off.

I have about 60 - 70 pounds yet to go, and I want to reach my goal.  I've discovered that I still slip into old habits of eating under stress, especially sugary foods.  I don't always remember to ask God for the help I need to get everything under control, especially in the last few months dealing with an unusual schedule - unusual for me, anyway.  In addition to writing, working on getting my first novel published, completing writing assignments while looking for more, and my family's activities, I took on a part-time retail job because we really need the money.  My schedule changes every week, so I'm trying to fit everything in without losing my mind, especially without being able to having a relatively set schedule.  Sometimes I eat at odd hours, at times eating healthy stuff yet also grabbing whatever on occasion (more occasions than I'd like to admit).  I fit in workouts when I can...and I really miss being able to make it to spin classes on a regular basis.  I also miss my Pilates sessions, even though I do some mat work at home.  I've been going through some major bouts of insomnia because of the schedule and the stress.  And the more stressed I become, the more often I hit a drive-thru so I don't have to cook at 10PM, or I grab junk just to get something into my stomach.

It's time for this cycle to STOP.  So when this opportunity to read Made To Crave again, in conjunction with a Proverbs 31 Ministries Bible Study, came up...well, I literally jumped at the chance.  The invitation to participate caused me to get up out of my office chair and thank God.  This is exactly what I need right now, to get me out of this anxious and depressed rut.  Since I read the book the first time without studying the corresponding Bible verses at the same time, I only got partial help from it.  I feel that doing this in its entirety will be just what I need to finally get it together and make all of the necessary changes in my life to get to where God wants me to be. 

If you feel this will help you as well, I invite you to join me and many others in this online Bible study.  You can find out more and sign up here.  Let's make 2014 the year we do everything we need to do to be our best.  I'm excited to start - and hope you'll do it with me!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Biggest Loser 15 - Getting Into The Olympic Spirit


This week the contestants get to do something most of us dream of - train with Olympians. 

After last week's weigh-in, the remaining players got packed and onto a plane to Park City, Utah, to work out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.  The first thing they noticed when boarding their flight was that they could walk down the aisle without bumping into other people already seated.  The other big victory...not only finding that seat belt extenders weren't necessary, but that there was actually room to breathe after buckling into the regular belt!

Once in Utah, Dolvett introduced everyone to Apolo Ohno, who jumped right into training and motivating the contestants.  He noticed that Rachel's mental switch was turned back on and advised her to never let it shut off again.  He also told David that his old inner athlete was coming back.  Apolo gave excellent advice for all of us - never just go through the motions in life, tap into your mental capacity and fight for yourself.  I know that's something I need to be reminded of every now and then...I'm sure we all do.

Of course everyone was worried about the weigh-in due to the travel schedule and major changes in routine...especially Bob.  Rachel proved that she was thinking ahead by preparing food from the ranch and packing it for the trip, so she wouldn't have to worry about falling into old eating patterns.  Bobby had a binge night at the beginning of the week, so he worked hard to overcome that the rest of the week - but Bob was still nervous and had a long talk with him. Bob also gave everyone a breakfast lesson to get them back on track.  Those mini frittatas look awesome, and I like how Chelsea plans to make them at home and use them as an on-the-go option before work.

The first challenge of the week is brought to us courtesy of the Women's Curling Team. They give encouragement to the contestants by telling them how hard worked at their second chance to make the Olympic team, and then Ali assigns the challenge.  Each player needs to push 100 pound curling stones into a target and land them in the red bulls-eye.  There are two heats of four, and two from each heat make it into the finals by scoring 3 points.  The person in the final round scoring 3 points first wins $5000.  Bobby and Rachel win Heat 1, David and Chelsea win Heat 2.  Rachel wins the final, and she can feel the pressure of being the number one threat/target in the group.  Now, however, she feels she can handle the pressure.

Bob puts everyone through a grueling obstacle course, which includes players riding piggyback with each other.  Marie can't jump high enough to get on Bobby's back, so she has him get on HER back and she carries him all the way.  Now that's a strong woman - she's in it to win it!

We also get an update on Tumi, who went home last week.  She's lost 139 pounds so far and is enjoying herself trying on wedding dresses, which she didn't do before at her old weight.  It's wonderful to see her reunite with her sister again as well.

Dolvett has a talk with Rachel about her dad, since they had a strained relationship after she quit competitive swimming and her parents divorced.  She was happy to report that after she told him about Biggest Loser, he's been writing her and showing plenty of support. They're on their way to mending their relationship, since they are bonding over athletic endeavors again.

The second challenge involved the bobsled track.  The contestants met the women's team of Jasmine and Lolo (yes - Lolo Jones from track and field!)  and got another lesson in second chances.  Then they all had to race UP the bobsled track, over a mile long, to win a one pound advantage at the weigh-in.  The altitude got to some of them but they all finished.  It came down to Rachel and Jay, with Rachel winning the pound advantage.

At the last chance workout, Jillian worked with Jen on her box jumps.  Jen's fear took over again, but this time Jill was able to talk her through it and get her to perform them.  I can totally relate to the fear, so kudos to Jen for overcoming it!

The weigh-in was held outdoors at night, at the Nordic Ski Jump site.  Five players lost weight, pleasing the trainers who were worried about the scale this week.  Jen lost nothing, but still stayed above the yellow line because Jay gained one pound and Bobby gained two.  Everyone voted to send Jay home, and he was a class act all the way.  I can't wait to see how he looks at the finale, which is coming up in a few weeks.

Next week is - wait for it - MAKEOVER WEEK!  I know we all look forward to this every season, and this time it will be fun to see David once he finally shaves that beard.  Tune in next week with me to see the transformations!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Biggest Loser 15 - Yellow Line Is Back, A Former Contestant Returns

It seems like forever since we last checked in on our Season 15 contestants, even though it's only been three weeks. 

So Biggest Loser provided us with a recap of the season so far in the first few minutes of tonight's show.  But that's OK - since they also gave us a 2 hour episode tonight. Seems like old times!

There are other reasons that tonight feels like a blast from the past as well.  A Season 8 favorite comes by to talk to the current contestants, and someone who was eliminated gets to return to the game.  Oh yeah...and the yellow line is back!

After the recap, we jump right into Alison bringing the eliminated players to the scale, vying for a spot back on the ranch.  She also informs them about the yellow line, which means they'll need to vote on who goes home.  The person with the highest percentage of weight loss gets to rejoin the competition.  Hap and Matt, who had just been eliminated, have already weighed in.  It looks like Matt won't be going anywhere, until Bobby gets on the scale and posts over 27 percent weight loss and knocks him back out.  Bobby is back, and Bob is thrilled since he had just lost two players...one of his favorites is back, someone who Bob thought wasn't quite ready to go home anyway.  They talk about Bobby's adventures since he was last on the ranch, then get back to work.

Bob also puts David through a tough circuit workout over and over again, and David responds by beating his time each round and showing great improvement. Bob asks him about his current wife, since so far most of the story had been about the first wife who passed away.  David talks about what a gift Melissa has been in his life for the past 9 years, and how strong she is coming into a grieving family, helping them move on while also allowing them to remember the wife and mom who is no longer here.  Bob arranges a video chat so David can tell Melissa how much he's learned on the ranch and how much he loves and appreciates her.  He vows to love her even better, since now he has really learned how to love himself so he can spread more love to his family.

Jillian works Tanya out, noticing how she always starts out strong in her workouts but waivers near the end.  Tanya tells Jill about her mom's abuse, and how her mom always pointed out what was "wrong" with her.  Jillian teaches her how to embrace her potential, and Tanya sees how she needs to "parent" herself instead of looking for approval from others. 

When we check in on Matt and Hap, we discover they've continued their friendship and support at home.  Hap travels a lot for work, so he shows us how he eats healthy on the road.  Hmm...I'm going to have to take a grill on the road with me as well.  It's such a great idea, and keeps you away from the greasy fast food when traveling.

Everyone meets Ali at the beach for the challenge.  They have to dig kettlebells out of the sand and carry them up the hill and hang them on a post. Each is worth one point, and the first to get to 10 wins a $25,000 home gym from Planet Fitness.  The person coming in last gets a one pound disadvantage at the weigh-in.  There is one golden kettlebell worth five points, which Marie finds, but it isn't enough to beat Jay for the top prize.  Tanya is last and receives the dreaded pound, but she vows to overcome it.

Season 8's Abby Rike comes to visit, and all of the contestants remember her story of losing her family in a car accident and struggling to find her way back.  She tells them not to compare their journey with anyone else's, and that it's necessary to deal with your own hurt to become whole again.  She has remarried and is approaching her 2nd wedding anniversary.  She also kept the weight off until suffering a back injury, and is working her way back to her previous fitness level with the help of the Biggest Loser Resort.  (I hope I can make a trip to one soon!)  She mentions how sweat and tears are healing waters...and David can definitely relate.

Dolvett takes the players to the race track, where they work out with driver Carl Edwards.  And what a surprise...they all have Subway for lunch!  The step workout looks brutal but they still all have fun doing it with Carl.  Back at the ranch, Rachel tries on her old size 8 jeans that her mom sent...and they fit!  As she celebrates her accomplishment, Marie meets with Jillian to let her know she's decided that she's in this competition to win it.  Jill promises to make her prove it - and delivers.

At the weigh-in, Tanya and Tumi fall below the yellow line.  Everyone votes to send Tumi home, since they consider her a bigger threat and feel she'll do well at home.

Next week the remaining contestants go to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Park City, Utah, where they'll train with Apolo Ohno and other athletes.  But will the scale be kind?  Tune in and find out!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Focus Word for 2014 - Believe

Happy New Year!  It's time once again to reveal my chosen word to focus on for the year, and the word of 2014 is BELIEVE.

Believing is truly something I need to set my mind to, as there are plenty of times when I let fear or discouragement derail my dreams and plans.  As much as I work on staying positive, I still spend too much time wondering just how things are going to get better or thinking about how far I still have to goal to reach my goals-in-progress.

So starting today and all through 2014, I am going to believe.  I BELIEVE God for the promises He has made to me, to give me hope and a future.  If I stay focused on Him instead of worrying about challenges, I will get where I need to go and find the joy I so desperately need in each and every day.  He is making things happen for me, and for my family and friends!

I also BELIEVE in myself...God gave me specific talents, gifts, and abilities, so I'm going to banish the doubt that creeps in at times - the false voice in my head that tries to tell me I'm not good enough or don't have what it takes.  I will be the me that He has created me to be.  I BELIEVE in what God gave me and will use all of it to the best of my ability.  It's time to move forward with confidence!

I wish you and our loved ones a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014.  May we all BELIEVE...today and every day of the entire year!